Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COUNTRY SALE, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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COUNTRY SALE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Under the thin green sky, the twilight day
Last Line: So beautiful, all went for an old song.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Auctions; Country Life; England; English

UNDER the thin green sky, the twilight day,
The old home lies in public sad array,
Its time being come, the lots ranged out in rows,
And to each lot a ghost. The gathering grows
With every minute, neckcloths and gold pins;
Poverty's purples; red necks, horny skins,
Odd peeping eyes, thin lips and hooking chins.

Then for the skirmish, and the thrusting groups
Bidding for tubs and wire and chicken coops,
While yet the women hang apart and eye
Their friends and foes and reck on who will buy.
The noisy field scarce knows itself, not one
Takes notice of the old man's wavering moan
Who hobbles with his hand still brushing tears
And cries how this belonged here sixty years,
And picks his brother's picture from the mass
Of frames; and still from heap to heap folks pass.

The strife of tongues even tries the auctioneer,
Who, next the dealer smirking to his leer,
A jumped-up jerky cockerel on his box,
Runs all his rigs, cracks all his jokes and mocks;
"Madam, now never weary of well-doing,"
The heavy faces gleam to hear him crowing.
And swift the old home's fading. Here he bawls
The white four-poster, with its proud recalls,
But we on such old-fashioned lumber frown;
"Passing away at a florin," grins the clown.
Here Baskett's Prayer Book with his black and red
Finds no more smile of welcome than the bed,
Though policeman turn the page with wisdom's looks:
The hen-wives see no sense in such old books.
Here painted trees and well-feigned towers arise
And ships before the wind, that sixpence buys.

All's sold; then hasty vanmen pile and rope
Their loads, and ponies stumble up the slope.
And all are gone, the trampled paddock's bare;
The children round the buildings run and blare,
Thinking what times these are! not knowing how
The heavy-handed fate has brought them low,
Till quartern loaf be gone too soon to-day,
And none is due to-morrow. Long, then, play,
And make the lofts re-echo through the eve,
And sweeten so the bitter taking-leave.

So runs the world away. Years hence shall find
The mother weeping to her lonely mind,
In some new place, thin set with makeshift gear,
For the home she had before the fatal year;
And still to this same anguish she'll recur,
Reckoning up her fine old furniture,
The tall clock with his church-bell time of day,
The mirror where so deep the image lay,
The china with its rivets numbered all,
Seeming to have them in her hands -- poor soul,
Trembling and crying how these, loved so long,
So beautiful, all went for an old song.

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